Ukrainian secret police torture jails


This video says about itself:

Ukrainian SBU tortured my husband to death

This is an interview with the wife of the man who was tortured to death by Ukrainian SBU.

The interview is dated from 17 November 2014 and was conducted by Graham Philips.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Secret prisoners’ release exposes ‘grotesque’ SBU

Tuesday 30th August 2016

Baker’s dozen of inmates bring tales of horror from Kiev secret service jails

by Our Foreign Desk

THE release of 13 people by Ukraine’s secret service has brought with it a wealth of new information on the country’s secret jails, rights activists said yesterday.

It adds to the “overwhelming” amount of evidence on “the grotesque practice of secret detention” which Ukrainian authorities continue to deny, said Amnesty International Europe director John Dalhuisen.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch published a report last month into torture and secret detention on both sides of Ukraine’s civil war, and sent a list of 16 people jailed by Ukraine’s security service (SBU) to the country’s chief military prosecutor.

Twelve of the 13, released from the spooks’ Kharkiv lockup in late July and early August, were on that list of disappeared people.

One, Vyktor Ashykhin, was kidnapped from his home on December 7 2014. He said that the authorities had moved him and others around the Kharkiv compound several times during his 597-day captivity in order to hide them during inspections of the facility.

Another, Mykola Vakaruk, taken two days after Mr Ashykhin, had to have his kidney out and was put in hospital under a fake name. After the operation, he spent 30 days in a Kharkiv hospital handcuffed to his bed and watched at all times by an SBU officer.

When they were let go on July 25, guards told them to keep their mouths shut or else.

Those released said five people are still locked away — two are Russian citizens and another has a mental illness.

One of the Russians, Vladimir Bezobrazov, was arrested while on a family holiday in the Odessa region. Border guards forced him to confess that he had come to recruit people to fight against the Kiev government — when he just voiced support for the anti-fascist fighters while in a local cafe.

He retracted the confession but later confirmed it as part of a swap for a captured pro-Kiev fighter. He was given a suspended sentence but on the steps of the court he was bundled into a van and has been missing since.

A man released from secret SBU detention later told Mr Bezobrazov’s mother that he was being held by the spooks.

“The release of 13 people is welcome, but simply confirms the need to end and investigate these abuses and deliver justice to the victims,” said Mr Dalhuisen.

American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick protests police killings


This 29 August 2016 video from the USA is called Colin Kaepernick On Why He Sat During The National Anthem

By Alan Gilman:

Professional football quarterback Colin Kaepernick protests US police killings

30 August 2016

Prior to last Friday’s preseason National Football League (NFL) game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans in the United States.

Kaepernick is a 28-year-old biracial man who was raised by the white parents who adopted him. His action was particularly courageous because the former Super Bowl starting quarterback is fighting to maintain his football career after losing his starting job last season. Drafted in 2011, he had been one of the most promising players in the NFL during his time under former coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick went on to add, “This is not something that I am going to run by anybody, I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

After Sunday’s practice Kaepernick addressed the media reaffirming his position and that he will continue to sit during the playing of the national anthem before games until “there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country—is representing the way that it’s supposed to.”

When asked if the pending presidential election had anything to do with the timing of his actions, Kaepernick responded, “I mean, you have Hillary [Clinton] who’s called black teens or black kids super-predators. You have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. I mean, we have a presidential candidate who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?”

… the athlete has … been subjected to rabid denunciations aimed at silencing any political dissent.

The media has regularly shown fans burning his jersey and highlighted the statements of more politically backward football players. TJ Yates, an injured quarterback of the Houston Texans, tweeted, “It blows my mind how many people hate the country they live in.” Matt Hasselbeck, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst, tweeted, “Easy way to make sure you’re NOT the starting QB on opening day. #Sept. 11.”

These are not the sentiments of broad layers of the public who are angered by police killings and indifferent to or disturbed by the endless promotion of patriotism and militarism at professional sporting events.

Several players defended Kaepernick’s right to express his opposition. Russell Okung, an offensive guard with the Denver Broncos, stated, “Kaepernick is well within his rights to do what he did. I’m not saying I agree, but I do understand why he felt morally obligated in his acts.”

Kaepernick, who addressed his team on Sunday, has won the respect of his teammates, even from those that disagree with his position. Center Daniel Kilgore said, “When it came out, honestly, I took offense to it,” Kilgore said. “But after Kap stated his case and seeing where he comes from, I stand with Kap.”

While Kilgore said he disagreed with Kaepernick’s decision to sit, he said, “I stand with Kap when he says enough is enough against crime, violence, discrimination and racism.”

The National Football League has not, at least until now, taken any action against Kaepernick. The 49ers released a statement praising what the anthem represents but recognizing that Kaepernick’s boycott matched up with “such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression.” Kaepernick’s coach, Chip Kelly, said he had no right to tell any player how to honor, or not honor, his country. The NFL responded by indicating that players are encouraged but not required to stand for the anthem.

Over the last number of years there have been increasing protests by athletes over police killings. In December 2014, St. Louis Rams pass receivers Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Jared Cook, Kenny Britt and Stedman Bailey entered the Edward Jones football field using the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture popularized by protests over the police murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The players said they wanted to express their solidarity with the people of Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb that had been put under siege by police and National Guard troops.

Athletes have also spoken out against militarism and war. In May 2011, the day after Obama’s announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden, Rashard Mendenhall, the 23-year-old star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, tweeted: “What kind of man celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”

Mendenhall’s comments—which were bound up with his religious convictions and skepticism in the government’s version of the 9/11 events—were immediately seized upon for a rabid campaign accusing the football player of being disloyal and contemptuous of the 3,000 Americans killed by the terrorist attacks. The fraternity of cable television sportscasters—who, with few exceptions, generally appeal only to the base instincts of sports fans—demanded that the NFL block athletes from having access to Twitter and social networking sites.

Shortly afterwards, sports apparel maker Champion fired Mendenhall, who had recently signed a four-year contract and had been a sponsor with the company since his NFL career started in 2008.

In 2004, Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Carlos Delgado [a Puerto Rican playing for a Canadian, not US team] refused to take the field during the playing of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch. The song became a tradition after the events of 9/11, but had since been ended at several MLB stadiums with some teams only playing it on weekends and holidays. Delgado, who was strongly against war, including the ones that were currently being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, felt the playing of the song was a political stand in itself that went against his beliefs. No action was ever taken against Delgado.

During this year’s Major League All-Star game, the Canadian-based vocal quartet The Tenors sang the Canadian anthem (there is one Canadian team in the Major leagues) at San Diego’s Petco Park. During a solo, Remigio Pereira changed the words of O Canada from, “With glowing hearts we see the rise, the True North strong and free,” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.”

Pereira also brandished a sign with the words “All Lives Matter,” inviting scorn from a plethora of prominent Canadians. The Tenors labeled him a “lone wolf” and kicked him out of the group. He later apologized.

Possibly the most well-known political demonstration during the performance of a national anthem at a sporting event occurred during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, when two Black American athletes each raised a black-gloved fist during the Star-Spangled Banner at a medals ceremony.

John Carlos, the bronze medalist in the men’s 200-metre race, and Tommie Smith, the gold medalist, performed the Black Power salute while on the podium to shine a spotlight on racial inequality in the US.

They were booed and forced out of the games by the president of the International Olympic Committee at the time, Avery Brundage, and suspended from the national team. The third man on the podium, a white Australian named Peter Norman, was vilified by his home nation for wearing his Olympic Project For Human Rights (OPHR) badge in solidarity. The OPHR was an organization formed to protest racial segregation.

The ritual of playing the national anthem before major sporting events dates back to the 1918 World Series. The US had entered the war 17 months earlier, and in that time some 100,000 American soldiers had died. The war had strained the economy and the workforce, including baseball’s. The government began drafting major leaguers for military service that summer and ordered baseball to end the regular season by Labor Day. As a result, the 1918 Series was the lone October Classic played entirely in September.

Hence a tribute that began to “honoring” the victims of the slaughter of World War I has developed into today’s militaristic ritual of opening sporting events by playing the national anthem accompanied by military honor guards, enormous flags, and often climaxing with fighter jets performing flyovers as fireworks go off.

Professional sports teams were paid tens of millions of dollars between 2012 and 2015 by the Department of Defense for patriotic tributes at professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer games, according to a November 2015 report published by Republican Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.

Kaepernick’s protest was an act of personal courage. His actions, like those who have engaged in similar acts in the past, must be defended against the right-wing promoters of nationalism, militarism and state repression of political dissent.

Coup in Brazil, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders


This video from the USA says about itself:

As Bernie Sanders Condemns Coup in Brazil, Where Are Obama & Clinton?

29 August 2016

Earlier this month, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders strongly denounced the impeachment of Brazil’s democratically elected president. In a statement posted on his Senate website, Sanders laid out his position as “calling on the United States to take a definitive stand against efforts to remove Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office.” He added, “To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d’état.” We speak to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald in Rio.

See also here.

Anti-Semitism in Polish history and present


This video says about itself:

29 January 2008

On 10 July, 1941, the Jewish population of Jedwabne, Poland, were rounded up and murdered. Over a thousand Jews were forced into a nearby barn which was doused with petrol and set on fire. Music was played to drown out their screams. For over 60 years, the Nazis were blamed for this pogrom. But new evidence proves residents carried out the massacre. This single revelation — that ordinary Poles willingly participated in the Shoah — has proved the most shattering revelation confronting Polish society since the fall of communism. It further complicates our understanding of the Holocaust. Our documentary this week is a compelling and personal film exploring the legacy of this massacre.

Watch the full film on Journeyman.

By Clara Weiss:

Polish PiS government encourages anti-Semitism

29 August 2016

The Polish government in Warsaw is calling for a revision of history aimed at downplaying Poland’s involvement in anti-Semitic crimes. The centrepiece of the right-wing conservative government’s campaign is the pogrom in Jedwabne, a village in the northeast of Poland. There, in the summer of 1941, Polish anti-Semites killed more than 350 Jews with the agreement of German occupying forces.

Education minister Anna Zalewska asserted in a television interview she was not clear who was responsible for the pogrom in Jedwabne, as well as the pogrom in Kielce in the summer of 1946. Shortly before, Jarosław Szarek, the new director of the Institute for National Memory, which is under government control, denied the responsibility of Polish nationalists for the Jedwabne pogrom.

Soon afterwards, right-wing Lublin-based historian Ewa Kurek announced plans to collect signatures over the summer for a petition calling for the exhumation of the remains of the victims of the Jedwabne pogrom. The mayor of Jedwabne, Michael Chajewski, backed the exhumations, telling the Gazeta Wyborcza, “Yes, I would do that. It is necessary to clarify how many were killed and by whom, in order to overcome doubts.”

The exhumation of the victims’ remains was already ordered in 2001 under the presidency of Lech Kaczynski. But it was never implemented, above all due to worldwide protests. The Jewish religion prohibits exhumations, which are considered to be a desecration of the dead. Representatives of Jewish organisations in Poland and internationally repeatedly spoke out against the exhumations.

Prior to the Second World War, the Jewish community in Poland was the largest in Europe, numbering 3.5 million. In virtually every Polish city, the Jewish population amounted to between 30 and 50 percent of the total, and in some even more. In the country as a whole, which was still dominated by agricultural production, the Jewish community amounted to 10 percent of the entire population.

During the Second World War, the Nazis turned occupied Poland into the main location for the extermination of European Jewry. All six concentration camps (Auschwitz, Treblinka, Chełmno, Sobibór, Majdanek and Bełżec) were located on current Polish territory. Only around 350,000 Polish Jews survived the war, most of them in the Soviet Union. At least 1.5 million Jews from other European countries were transported to camps in Poland and murdered there.

Polish anti-Semites also carried out pogroms against the Jewish population prior to, during and after the war. The Jedwabne pogrom, which occurred soon after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, is the most well known of these. In 2000, the Polish-American sociologist Jan Tomasz Gross published a book on the pogrom titled “Neighbours,” unleashing the most wide-ranging debate on historical and political questions since 1989.

Gross played an important role in the student protests of March 1968 in Poland and then emigrated in 1969 with his family as a result of the Stalinist regime’s anti-Semitic campaign. In his book, he utilised generalisations and an ahistorical method recalling that employed by Daniel Goldhagen in his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Like Goldhagen, Gross, whose writings are riddled with anti-communism, opposes a class analysis of fascism and anti-Semitism. Instead, he makes use of national abstractions and declares “the Poles as a nation” to be “perpetrators.”

By contrast, he says nothing about the history of the Polish workers’ movement, which in the 1930s led a struggle against the anti-Semitism of the government and extreme right-wing forces. …

However, in contrast to the claims of the Polish government, there is no historical doubt about the responsibility of Polish anti-Semites for the Jedwabne and Kielce pogroms. A comprehensive investigation by the Institute of National Memory (IPN), which was commissioned by the government in the wake of the publication of Gross’s book, came to the conclusion that at least 340 Jews were killed in the summer of 1941, broadly agreeing with Gross’s figures.

Many victims were burnt alive in the village’s church. Research by historian Anna Bykont confirmed the findings by the IPN and Gross. According to Bykont, the pogrom was carried out by nationalist elites in the village.

With over 40 fatalities, the Kielce pogrom of July 1946 was the worst of a series of attacks and bombings that killed more than 200 Holocaust survivors between 1945 and 1948. The pogrom was covered up by the Catholic Church as well as the Polish Nationalist Armija Krajowa (Home Army), which was waging a guerrilla war against the Stalinist government and its troops at the time, and deliberately stoking the spectre of a “Żydokomuna” (Jewish commune).

Confronted with this anti-Semitic violence, 150,000 of 250,000 Holocaust survivors who had returned to Poland after 1945, left the country by 1948. In the 1950s, and particularly in response to the student protests of 1968, the Stalinist regime conducted a series of anti-Semitic campaigns that forced tens of thousands more to emigrate. According to various estimates, between 5,000 and 25,000 Jews live in Poland today. (Some estimates, which include fully assimilated descendants of Jews, put the figure at 100,000).

In response to the education minister’s comments, several teachers wrote an open letter to the education ministry that has been signed by 1,300 teachers to date. In it, they resist “the manipulation of Poland’s recent history.” In Polish schools, neither the Holocaust nor Polish anti-Semitism are compulsory subjects, but a growing number of teachers are attending training courses at their own expense to be able to teach the subject.

Shortly thereafter, dozens of renowned researchers on Polish-Jewish relations at universities in the US, Israel and France published a letter opposing the comments of the Polish education minister.

The Law and Justice Party (PiS) government is directly appealing to the far right with its actions. The denial of the responsibility of Polish nationalists for anti-Semitic pogroms has been a key plank of extreme right-wing ideology for decades. A major campaign of agitation against Gross has been waged in Poland for years with unmistakable anti-Semitic undertones.

The Polish attorney general filed a lawsuit against Gross last autumn for “insulting the honour of the Polish people.” The right-wing Gazeta Warszawska, Zakazana Historia published an anti-Semitic caricature and a vile article agitating against Gross. The radical right-wing “Fortress for Poland’s good reputation–Polish anti-defamation League” backed the campaign with petitions against Gross.

The campaign is pursuing the goal of suppressing all historical research which contradicts the nationalist falsification of history. This is in keeping with the anti-communist law from earlier this year, which criminalises “communist propaganda” and requires the removal of all symbols associated with the socialist workers’ movement and the Polish People’s Republic (PRL) from public spaces.

Like the right-wing Polish nationalists in the 20th century, the PiS government combines anti-communism with anti-Semitism. Since the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the anti-Semitic spectre of the “Jewish commune” has been a central component of Polish nationalist ideology and of a large section of the bourgeoisie.

In the face of the economic crisis, the Polish government encouraged right-wing tendencies in the 1930s, which carried out pogroms on Jews, organised economic boycotts of Jewish businesses and drove Jews out of the universities. From 1936, the elimination of the Jews from Polish economic life and the “Polandisation” of major cities were official policies of the government, which collaborated closely with fascist groups and drew inspiration from the suppression of Jews in neighbouring Nazi Germany.

In 1937, Polish justice minister Witold Grabowski travelled to Germany to discuss with senior Nazis the adoption of the Nuremberg race laws in Poland. This was not firmly pursued, but between 1935 and 1939, the Polish government implemented several anti-Jewish laws, which dramatically worsened the economic and political position of Polish Jews.

Several professional associations, above all doctors, lawyers and traders, imposed bans to exclude Jews from their professions. De facto ghetto benches and a numerical limit were enforced for Jewish students at universities. Between 1936 and 1938, clashes took place almost daily between right-wing students and Jews or socialists. In some cities, especially Lvov (today Lviv and part of Ukraine), numerous Jewish students were murdered on campus.

Bloody street battles occurred in many villages and towns between fascist bands and armed self-defence groups for Jewish and Polish workers’ parties in the years prior to the German occupation of Poland in September 1939. The government gave free rein to the right-wing Endecja group led by Roman Tmowski, which carried out numerous pogroms.

Although the Nazis persecuted the Polish right wing during the war and drove the nationalists into the resistance movement, some of them supported the Nazis’ “final solution” of the “Jewish problem.” The pogroms by Polish nationalists during the Second World War, above all in rural areas, took place in this context.

Education minister Anna Zalewska is not the only government representative to dispute the responsibility of Polish nationalists for the pogroms in Jedwabne and Kielce. Current defence minister Antoni Macierewicz edited the radical right-wing newspaper Głos (the Voice) in the 1990s, where he published several anti-Semitic articles himself and denied the Jedwabne and Kielce pogroms. Macierewicz declared in an interview in the early 2000s that the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an anti-Semitic pamphlet, was in essence correct.

The encouragement of anti-Semitism is part of the preparations for war against Russia and the militarisation of society, through which far-right forces are being systematically mobilised and integrated into the state. Macierewicz personifies this policy. As a notorious anti-communist and anti-Semite, he is also among one of the sharpest critics of Russia. At the recent NATO summit, he shook hands with US President Barack Obama and other heads of Western governments who agreed to the demands of the PiS government for the stationing of NATO troops in eastern Poland.